Solar workers face a wide range of workplace health and safety risks—ranging from lifting and ladders to trips and falls. But, by following this advice and sharing it via solar safety trainings, you can substantially reduce the number of accidents on your job site.
Solar installation can be a dangerous job if the right safety precautions for Solar panels aren’t taken.
But exactly how dangerous?
According to some estimates, working in the Solar industry is three times more dangerous than being employed in the Windpower sector. When calculated in relation to the amount of power each industry produces, it’s more than ten times more dangerous than nuclear power. As a result, there are believed to be around 100 to 150 deaths in the worldwide Solar industry each year.
So what are the major solar energy hazards that can cause injuries, or worse, fatalities and what steps can you take to ensure solar safety?
Solar panels are heavy and difficult to lift. Failing to perform a lift correctly can result in strains, muscle pulls, and severe back injuries including herniated discs, rotator cuff tears, and hip and lower back strains.
Trips and Falls
Injuries caused by trips and falls include broken, fractured, or shattered bones; severe back neck and head trauma; puncture injuries; and internal injuries.
Solar energy systems consist of a number of components conducting electricity. Potential injuries include thermal burns; muscle, nerve and tissue damage; and falls caused by an unexpected shock.
A number of serious risks are associated with using ladders, including fractures or sprains; puncture injuries; cuts and bruises; and back, neck, and head trauma.
Given the considerable amount of risk associated with installing Solar panels, it’s important to take all the necessary precautions to ensure solar safety on your job site.
Reducing Accidents and Improving Solar Safety
The following are our top 10 tips for reducing the risk of Solar-related accidents:
1. Identify All Potential Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards Before Beginning Work.
Keep work areas free from debris and obstructions such as abandoned tools and electrical cords. Also keep them free from ice, oil and water, and other substances that could cause slips.
2. Keep Manual Lifting to a Minimum.
Use mobile carts or forklifts to move Solar panels. If there is no alternative to manual lifting, use gloves to protect your hands and improve your grip.
3. Eliminate Electrical Risks.
Keep a safe distance from power lines. Cover the Solar array with an opaque sheet to ‘turn off’ the sunlight. Test circuits to ensure they are ‘de-energized’ before you work on them. Wear the appropriate protective equipment.
4. Maximize Ladder Safety.
Inspect ladders before beginning work and take defective ones out of use. Use non-conductive fiberglass ladders near power sources. Place ladders on dry, level ground, away from doorways and walkways. Secure ladders to the ground or rooftop. Grasp the horizontal ladder rungs (not the vertical rails) and maintain three points of contact.
5. Develop a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Policy.
Employers should provide the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for workers to do their job safely. The employer must also ensure employees use PPE in a way that maintains its reliability.
6. Develop Procedures for Using Power Tools.
Power tools must be kept in safe working condition. Employers should assign responsibility for overseeing the proper use and maintenance of the tools. Equipment, including electrical cords, must be inspected prior to use to ensure it is safe. Employees must be trained properly on how to operate all power tools. If maintenance is required, employees must be trained to safely perform the maintenance.
7. Develop Hydration Policies and Safe Practices for Working in the Sun.
Working in hot conditions can cause dehydration or excessive loss of water from your body. Fluid loss can become severe enough to be life-threatening. Drinkable water must be available to workers on-site and you should encourage regular hydration.
8. Consult With Other On-Site Contractors.
Ensure you are fully aware of any work that other contractors are performing on-site. Communicate with them to identify any potential safety hazards created by their work.
9. Provide Worker Safety Training.
Train solar workers in the safe operation of machinery, tools, and equipment, as well as training them in how to work in accordance with safety policies. Document the training that has taken place. Training takes time and effort but it can reduce delays to projects caused by accidents.
10. Stay Alert!
Remain aware while at work. Stay in tune with your work surroundings. If you see unsafe conditions or people working in an unsafe manner, stop and rectify the problem before an accident happens.
Get in Touch
At Workrise, quality and safety are our top priorities. We offer more than 200 flexible safety, compliance, and HSE training courses online and in-person. Together, we will find the right courses to ensure the workers on your job site meet your requirements.
Let us help you with training, staffing, technology, and professional services so you can get back to focusing on what you do best. Visit our website at workrise.com.
For more information, reach out to our Health, Safety, and Environment team at HSE@workrise.com.